Today, Congresswoman Shea-Porter took action to defend New Hampshire's commercial fishing industry. The Northeast groundfish fishery received a disaster declaration from the Department of Commerce in September because, despite fishermen's efforts, certain fish stocks have not rebuilt. Now, drastically reduced catch limits are being considered for the coming year. This would means millions of dollars in lost income for New Hampshire's commercial fishing industry, and New Hampshire would suffer the most severe economic impact of any Northeast state.
"Commercial fishing is a heritage industry in New Hampshire, and it is vital that we preserve it for future generations. The disaster funding passed by the Senate will help the industry survive during these difficult times," said Congresswoman Shea-Porter. "I have urged Speaker Boehner to pass the disaster aid as approved by the Senate. Since the current bill before the House contains no relief for commercial fisheries though, I have also cosponsored Representative Tierney's amendment to reinstate the funding."
Congressman Tierney's amendment restores the full $150 million to the fisheries disaster funds and is paid for from other programs in the supplemental appropriation, which should be done through the regular budget process for NOAA.
Dear Speaker Boehner:
As you work to pass the Hurricane Sandy Relief bill, I ask that you do so expeditiously and without amendments that would require offsets and spending cuts. This would be a significant break with tradition, as offsets have never been necessary to pass other disaster relief bills, such as the Hurricane Katrina relief.
I also ask that the $150 million dollars in disaster relief for commercial fishermen in the Northeast be left in the relief bill passed by the Senate. On September 13, 2012, the Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank declared a fisheries resource disaster for the Northeast Multispecies Groundfish Fishery. The Secretary issued this declaration because: "despite fishermen's adherence to strict catch limits, several key fish stocks in the Northeast groundfish fishery are not rebuilding and further cuts are expected in 2013."
With the cuts currently being considered by the National Marine Fisheries Service, New Hampshire commercial groundfishing boats could see a 91% reduction in income. I have been advised that under this scenario, only one New Hampshire boat would survive out of the current fleet of forty-six boats. In fact, New Hampshire would suffer the most severe economic impact out of any Northeast state. This is because the New Hampshire groundfish fleet is comprised of all small boats that rely on cod and haddock, which are two of the most devastated species in the Northeast fishery.
Commercial fishing is a heritage industry in New Hampshire that is vital to our economy and seacoast communities. If the industry disappears it will not only directly impact fishermen, but also processors, distributors, and local restaurants. This disaster aid funding is critical to make sure that the industry can survive in New Hampshire during this difficult time and remain a resource and economic engine for future generations.
Thank you for your attention to this request.
Member of Congress